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Step 29

ON TRANQUILITY OF SOUL.

1. Ignorant as I am, and labouring under the obscurity of the passions, yet I am bold to speak of that eminent virtue of peace of mind which enables us to behold heaven on earth, and angels in mortal bodies.

2. As the stars compose the beauty of the firmament, so the virtues constitute the beauty of this blessed peace. For I view it in no other light but as an interior and spiritual paradise, in which the soul treats the artifices of the devil as so many vain and foolish phantoms.

3. He who has purified his body from every stain of lust, who has elevated his mind above all terrestrial objects, who has subjected his senses to the command of reason, who walks before God, and tends to Him unceasingly, with the aid of divine grace, and with all the energy of his soul, he who does all this, possesses truly, both in the sight of God and men, the sweet serenity of holy peace.

4. Some affirm that this tranquility of soul may be termed a resurrection preceding that of the body; others a knowledge of God inferior only to that of the angels.

5. Thus this virtue, which constitutes the perfection of the saints in this life, and which is susceptible of increase until death, sanctifies the soul in such manner, as a well-instructed and experienced person informed me, and detaches it so completely from all affection to the world, that after having brought it to this celestial port, it raises it by a rapture of ecstasy even to heaven, there to enjoy a foretaste of the sight and contemplation of God. Souls endowed with this heavenly peace are termed by holy David “the strong gods of the earth, exceedingly exalted.”1 We have seen such ecstasies and transports of delight in a holy solitary of Egypt, who always held his arms extended in the form of a cross when he prayed with his brethren.

6. All do not possess this peace in an equal degree. For whilst some have an extreme horror of sin, others have an insatiable desire of becoming rich in virtue.

7. Chastity is sometimes termed the tranquility of the mind, and for this reason, that it is the beginning of the general resurrection of the incorruptible body, which before was corruptible.

8. The apostle of the Gentiles gives us to understand that he possessed this peace: “Henceforth,” he says, “we know no man according to the flesh, ....we know him so no longer.”2 The solitary of Egypt, (St. Anthony) could also claim it when he said: “That the love of God had banished from his soul all fear.” And what peace did not he (the holy Deacon of Edessa) enjoy, when he besought God to permit him to be again assailed by his former temptations and passions? When, not like David praying to be refreshed with comfort,3 he implored Jesus Christ to moderate the effusions of His grace, with the sweetness of which he was overpowered.

9. We may affirm that a person enjoys this tranquility of soul when virtue is as natural and familiar to him as vice is to the voluptuous.

10. If it be the height of intemperance to be dragged by our insatiable appetite to eat when we are not hungry, so is it the perfection of temperance to refrain from eating when we are hungry, by the power which the soul has obtained over the inclinations of the body. If it show an excess of brutality to be affected by things animated, as if they possessed life; so is it a high degree of chastity to be indifferent to things animate and living, as if they were lifeless and senseless. If it be the propensity of a truly avaricious mind to go on amassing wealth without any limit or cessation; so is it true evangelical poverty when we no longer spare our own bodies. If it be no small baseness and cowardice to lose patience in a state the most mild and easy, so is it the testimony of longanimity to accept of affliction and sorrow, in place of contentment and serenity. If to break out into fury when we are alone, be the climax of anger, so to preserve our temper unruffled, when in the presence of those who have dishonoured us by their calumnies, is the summit of moderation. The greatest extravagance of vainglory is to feast upon the false praises which others have lavished upon us, as if these praises were truly merited; the utmost reserve of modesty is to feel not the slightest emotion of vanity in the encomiums which may be pronounced upon us in our presence. The true character of pride, from which all perdition took its beginning, is to be lifted up even in the most miserable and abject condition. The surest test of a salutary humility, is to abase ourselves by sentiments the most humble, even in the performance of the most heroic enterprises, and the most holy actions. If it be a proof that we are still subject to our passions, when we consent without resistance to the evil thoughts suggested by the devil, so is it the strongest testimony, in my opinion, that we have attained to peace of soul, when we can say with holy David: When my enemy departed from me, I did not perceive it.” And I know not how he comes, or why he comes, or why he retires; because I am insensible to all these things, being perfectly and inseparable united to God, by all the cords of affection that can bind my heart.”

11. He upon whom the Almighty has conferred the grace of this sublime state, is, whilst clothed with this mortal body, the living temple of God, who guides and directs him in all his thoughts, words, and actions, who, by the interior grace with which He enlightens his mind, enables him to listen to the voice of His divine will, and to exclaim with the sweet Bard of Sion: “My soul hath thirsted after the strong and living God; when shall I come and appear before the face of God?”4 For I can no longer endure the violence of that desire which consumes me; and I sigh after that immortal beauty which you had bestowed upon me before the original sin of disobedience had subjected me to death.

12. What shall I say further? He who possesses this inexpressible happiness, cries out with the apostle: “I live now not I; but Christ within me.”5 “I have fought the good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. As for the rest, there is laid up for me a crown of justice, which the Lord, the just judge, will render to me in that day.”6

13. As the crown of an emperor is not composed of a single diamond, but of many precious jewels, so the sovereign tranquility of the soul is composed not of a single virtue, but of all the virtues.

14. Consider this happy state as the palace of the King of Heaven, and the divers rooms in it the several degrees of this virtue of peace. The wall which surrounds this heavenly palace is the remission of our sins. Hasten then, my brethren, hasten, that you may be admitted into that nuptial chamber which is in the midst of this celestial mansion. But if unfortunately we should be too much weighed down by our former habits, or should be too suddenly arrested in our mortal career, to attain the chamber itself, let us select some apartment near to this royal abode of our Divine Spouse. If, however, we are too languid, and too cowardly to strive for this secondary residence, let us not fail to be included within the precincts of the palace. For he who has not entered before his death, or rather who has not scaled the walls, will then find himself in a terrible solitude with the demons, and with his passions. “By thee,” says holy David, “I shall be delivered from temptation; and through my God I shall go over a wall.”7 And Isaiah, speaking to the Jews, exclaims: “Your iniquities have divided between you and your God; and your sins have hid his face from you, that he should not hear.”8 Overturn then, my beloved friends, this wall raised by disobedience, which exists between God and you. Obtain in this life the pardon of your sins, for there is no one that is mindful of God in hell. Labour with zeal during the remainder of your short life, since you have been enrolled in the army of Jesus Christ, that you may display your valour on the field of battle. For we have no excuse from our relapses into sin, from our want of time, or from the difficulty of God’s commandments, since all we, who have been regenerated in Jesus Christ by baptism, have received the adoption of the sons of God.9 This is the exclamation of God himself: “Be still and see that I am God;”10 and that I am the sovereign peace of the soul. To Him be glory and empire for ever and ever. Amen.

15. This holy tranquility lifts up the soul from the earth, and withdraws the spirit of the humble from the mire of the unruly passions. But charity, which is beyond all praise, gives to this virtue of blessed peace, precedence amongst the most eminent of the celestial spirits, and places it with the princes of God’s holy people.


  1. Ps. xlvi. 10.

  2. 2 Corinth. v. 16.

  3. Ps. xxxviii. 14.

  4. Ps. xii. 3.

  5. Gal. ii. 20.

  6. II Timoth. iv. 7.

  7. Ps. xvii. 30.

  8. Isaiah lix. 2.

  9. I John iii. 1.

  10. Ps. xlv. 11.



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Archbishop Gregory
Dormition Skete
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